The Awakening Essay

1085 words - 4 pages


Books, unlike movies, have been around since the beginning of time. For the most part, they are more meaningful than the movies that are made from these books. This is due to the fact that an author is able to convey his/her message clearer and include things in the book that cannot be exhibited in a movie. For this reason, the reader of the book is much more effected than the viewer of the film. In the novella, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, there is much more evidence of symbolism as well as deeper meaning than in the movie version of the book, Grand Isle. Chopin conveys her symbolic messages through the main character’s newly acquired ability to swim, through the birds, through sleep, and through images of the moon.

	Edna Pontellier, the main character of the novel, struggles all summer at Grand Isle to learn to swim. She has been assisted by many people but was always too afraid to swim on her own. One Saturday night, after attending an evening in the hall, Edna swims out for the first time by herself into the inviting ocean. Realizing how easy it is and due to her "excited fancy," (Chopin, 30) she accidentally swims out very far. At that moment, "a quick vision of death smote her soul, and for a second of time appalled and enfeebled her senses." (Chopin, 30) For the first time she comes face to face with death. Those are the events described by the book. The movie, on the other hand, only shows Edna swimming out, struggling a little, and returning to shore. In addition, the movie doesn’t mention the strength and joy Edna feels after this experience. She states that she "never was so exhausted in [her] life. But it isn’t unpleasant…it is like a night in a dream." (Chopin, 31)

	At the end of this story, Edna kills herself by swimming out into the ocean. The movie shows just that, omitting two very significant symbols which are present in the novella. The first of these two symbols is the injured bird that’s "beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water." (Chopin, 124) This bird symbolizes Edna’s struggle to become the master her own life as well as her failure to achieve this goal. The other symbol is "the old terror [that] flamed up for an instant, then sank again." (Chopin 124) This is the same terror she feels when she swims out for the first time. It shows that Edna now understands that the only way she could be free is if she takes her own life.

	Another major symbolic image in this novel is the birds. They are, however, almost completely disregarded in the movie. They symbolize repeating cycles as well as the entrapment of women. In the opening lines of the book, the parrot keeps "repeating over and over: ‘Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi!’" (Chopin, 1) This represents the cycles that reoccur throughout the novel. One example is the nine-month cycle of life that is evident through Madame Ratignolle’s...

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